The Kubrick Shot – Dissecting His Techniques

No doubt, Stanley Kubrick is one of the most well known directors throughout the world. His shots have been mimicked and his tastes glorified for decades. This time, let’s take a look at the various techniques he liked to use in his films. Some of these scenes have defined who he is and has shown up in his works over and over again.

  1. Displaying A Character’s Insanity

Kubrick liked to showcase his character’s insanity or derangement in a distinct shot where he would have the camera at the side of the actor or slightly above. The actor’s eyes would be glaring at the camera and that maniacal grin would show. He used this in The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange.

  1. Slow, Dragged Out Scenes

For many, this type of shot and scene annoys them because it’s not “fast paced” but what Kubrick does is take you through the entire process. He forces you to slow down, wait and watch as the character goes through what he needs to do. He doesn’t employ cuts or compress the scene but he shows it from beginning to end. The best example for this is when Bowman goes around the ship disconnecting HAL. Kubrick shows how Bowman shuts off each one of the modules. Allowing the viewers to take in what’s happening and forcing them to pay attention to it.

  1. The Symmetrical Shots

Sure, Wes Anderson may be the equivalent of this in today’s generation but Kubrick employed it first. Symmetrical shots made films like A Clockwork Orange and The Shining even more menacing and scary.

  1. The Wide Angle Shot

Kubrick liked to use extreme wide-angle lenses to showcase his shots in many of the key scenes for his films. These were so wide they caused a barrel distortion adding to the tone and consistency of the film. You can find samples of this in A Clockwork Orange.

  1. The Cold Tone

Perhaps the best thing that’s so characteristically Kubrick is his capacity to create a film that seems so cold and desolate that you’d hardly believe there’s a human character on there we’re supposed to care about. Most of the time, you really don’t end up caring about the characters but instead, you end up just watching the story unfold and think afterwards. You can replace the names and the faces but you can’t forget the story, the shots and the coldness of everything.